Drawing Comparisons To James Blake, Alt-J, and Disclosure – Enjoy a Q&A with Your New Favorite Band – OYLS
Posted On 03 Nov 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Artist Interview, band interview, Best of Wilson Picket, Black Messiah, D'Angelo, Deerhoof, Dr. Dre, Dungen, Dungeon, Eminem, Gandhi, GFM, Ground Floor Mgmt., Groundfloor Management, Groundfloor Mgmt, Hit The Road Jack, Jesus Etc., Judge Judy, Let It Bleed, Marshall Mathers, Marshall Mathers LP, Michael Jackson, music interview, musicians, OYLS, Ray Charles, Rolling Stones, Run The Jewels, Sly & The Family Stone, Sly And The Family Stone, The National, The Rolling Stones, There's Gonna Be A Riot, Trouble Will Find Me, Wilco, Wilson Picket
OYLS was conceived on an Amtrak train somewhere along the hour-and a half stretch between Davis and Berkeley California. David Kirshenbaum, the taller half of the OYLS duo, proudly recalls, “Michael had just suffered a break-up and so it was the perfect time to convince him to get back into music.” Some tears, several glasses of scotch, and one all-nighter later, “Dots and Dashes” was born and what started as a therapeutic jam session, soon revealed itself to be the creation of an entirely new sound. OYLS seamlessly blends the writing ethic of rock, soul and motown with a rhythmic backbone that draws from a 21st century electronic landscape.
Drawing comparisons to James Blake, Alt-J, and Disclosure, OYLS finds itself at a new frontier of electronic music, and lends a melodic and lyrical vulnerability to a genre that is too often poetically terse. Read on as All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa catches up with David + Michael of OYLS below!
Hi Guys! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
M: We’re good!–right now were sitting at my dining room table and Judge Judy is playing in the background. We’re about to practice. And our ‘band dog’ Grace keeps lifting our arms with her nose because we’re not giving her enough attention. So we’ll probably take her for a walk after.
For those that are not familiar with OYLS and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
M: We’ve both been making music since we were kids, and met each other when we were in high school. I think I made David really uncomfortable at first.
D: It took me a really long time to understand when Michael is being serious. I couldn’t tell when he was messing with me or not. He still might be. I think the real tipping point for me–that pushed me to go all in with OYLS– was that I found someone who was equally determined to make a career out of music and that I knew he would stick it out with me.
M: And we were really excited about what was coming out of our writing sessions. It didn’t make sense because it didn’t sound like anything either of us had created previously.
D: Yeah, there was a lot of excitement when we found ourselves creating music in a genre with so much uncharted territory.
What did you learn between your previous bands, collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your latest release?
M: I played in a funk cover band throughout college. We were called Jordan’s Beard because our bassist was named Jordan and he had a really long beard that he died red. I think it taught me that people really want an excuse to dance. It became important to me that whatever I was going to make, regardless of how heavy the content, that there would be a relief in the beat.
D: My first experience playing music was in an orchestra and that really imprinted on me the importance of dynamics in music. Modern recorded music has a very high emphasis on compression and a feeling of ‘loudness,’ and in OYLS we definitely embrace that to a degree, given our genre, but I always try when writing as well as mixing to never let our modern approach completely overshadow the movement within the music.
Who have been your inspirations growing up (be it film, music, art, etc.) that also inspire you today?
M: My grandpa, Gandhi, and Sly and the Family Stone
D: Michael Jackson, forever and always.
Nowadays, everything is so instant…you press a button and it’s yours ala Spotify, Souncloud, iTunes etc. What was the first album you saved up your hard earned money and bought for yourself?
M: It was a used ‘Best of Wilson Picket’ CD when I was 7. It was $6 and given my allowance of $1 per week, it took me six weeks to save up for. I’m going to go listen to it after we wrap this interview, in fact! 😉
D: Oh, it was definitely Eminem. My friends and I thought we were so cool if we could get an uncensored version of the Marshall Mathers LP. I mean, up until that point either my parents bought me or my friends lent me most of my CDs. But when it came to Eminem, my parents decided to be ‘responsible’ or whatever and my friends wouldn’t lend people theirs, because then they wouldn’t be really cool anymore. Turns out we were listening to a pretty great album, but I don’t think it was really about that.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
M: “Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles. ‘Why’ is hard to answer– I was 4 and it’s all I wanted to listen to. In hindsight, I must have been really drawn by Ray Charles’ melodies, passion and that hook…
D: I’m sure I went through a million different songs that I can’t think of, but the first song I distinctly remember being incredibly moved by was “Jesus Etc.” by Wilco. They’re hands down my favorite band to this day.
As far as songwriting goes, how do you capture inspiration as it comes to you?
M: It’s definitely not consistent. Sometimes a feeling strikes and a song just pours out faster than we can track it and other times I’ll spend months on a single lyric or melody until it feels just right.
D: Usually it’s a strong emotion, either personal or a result of being moved by a situation, event etc. But even when I’m not feeling inspired, writing often needs to get done regardless. So basically, I’ll start playing around with sounds or melodies and just keep my ears peeled for a second or two of it that I enjoy. It’s easy to get excited about little bits of potential and then to build from there.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
M: D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, Rolling Stone’s Let it Bleed, Sly & The Family Stone’s Theres a Riot Goin’ On.
D: I’ve been all over the place lately — I’m loving Run the Jewels 2, and I’ve been revisiting older albums by Deerhoof, and Dungen. And the new Dr. Dre. It’s been a couple months now and I’m not really sure how to stop listening to it…
What’s on tap next for you OYLS? What are you most excited about for this year?
M: Playing live a lot. Very excited to be writing and completing an EP. My latest obsession has been projection mapping and making a live lighting show that reflects our music.
D: Oh boy, a year. I’m not even sure what next month will look like. Like Mike said, preforming and writing are always a blast. And just the excitement that more and more people have been listening to and enjoying our music. But more than anything it’s having no idea what else could be right around the corner that makes it pretty impossible to ever get bored.
To keep up to date with OYLS , visit them via their socials:
Website + Twitter + Soundcloud + Instagram: @OYLSband